Growing a Sweet Viburnum Hedge in Australia (Viburnum odoratissimum)

Sweet viburnum is an excellent plant for hedging, especially in warm, temperate and tropical regions around the country.

Not only does this plant have lovely large and glossy dark green leaves but it also produces large cluster flowers that are sweetly fragrant.

After flowering, sweet viburnum produces clusters of red berries that turn black as they mature and are favoured by birds.

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The plant can reach a height of around 9 metres which makes it ideal for a good screening hedge.

Here’s everything you need to know about growing a sweet viburnum hedge.

Viburnum odoratissimum varieties

There is a number of different cultivars that have been bred from the original species. The more popular ones include:

Viburnum odoratissimum ‘Emerald Lustre’

This cultivar is a vigorous grower and perfect for hedging. It features bright green glossy leaves with coppery red new growth. It can easily reach a height of 4 to 5 metres and has low-growing branches to create a nice dense hedge.

The plant produces small white flowers in spring and summer that are fragranced. This cultivar does grow well in warmer climatic regions as it can be frost-tender. However, it does tolerate high winds and will handle light frost.

Viburnum ‘Awabuki’

If you live in an area that has a fairly dry climate, this is the cultivar you should consider. The leaves are extra glossy and waxy. This means that they have the ability to retain moisture for a longer period of time.

Viburnum ‘Dense Fence’

This cultivar has smaller leaves and a very dense growth habit. It needs less pruning than the original species and has new growth that is subtly red in colour. 

Commonly, this cultivar is grown to create a 2.5 metre high hedge with each plant spreading to a width of around 2 metre. However, the plant can reach a height of around 3.5 metres if it is left to grow naturally and not pruned. 

This cultivar is also great if you live in colder regions as it has performed well in colder temperatures when compared to the main species. It will even tolerate light frosts once it has become established.

How to prepare the soil for sweet viburnum

First, you want to choose either a sunny or partially shaded spot for your hedge. This gives you plenty of options on where you can create a good screen for your garden.

The soil needs to be free-draining and contain some organic matter. Sweet viburnum will grow in most soil types around the country as long as the soil doesn’t get waterlogged. 

To prepare your soil, work in some compost or other organic matter to give your plants a good headstart. 

How to plant a sweet viburnum hedge

After you’ve prepared the soil, it’s time to plant your sweet viburnum hedge. To create a nice straight line of plants, use a string line to mark where you want to position the holes.

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It’s a good idea to dig all of your planting holes first so that you can ensure that they’re evenly spaced and in a straight line. You can plant your sweet viburnum hedge plants at any time of the year as long as you remember to keep your plants watered while they’re becoming established.

For a lower-growing hedge up to around 2 metres, space your plants around 75 to 100 cm apart. However, if you want a taller hedge of around 4 metres, you can space your plants further apart at around 1.5 to 2 metres.

Always dig your planting holes so that they’re around twice the width of the rootball and as deep as the pot. Once all of your holes have been dug, take each plant out of its pot and place it in the centre of the hole.

Backfill the hole with soil and then water your plants well. Add a layer of mulch around the base of the plants but keep the mulch a little way back from the trunk of each plant.

RELATED: Which Ficus are Best for a Hedge?

How to care for your sweet viburnum hedge

Sweet viburnum won’t require any special care once it’s become well-established.

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However, when young, it should be kept watered to encourage healthy growth. Once the plants have become established they won’t require additional watering if you receive rain at least once a week.

Your sweet viburnum hedge will only need a feed once a year in spring. Especially if you use a slow-release fertiliser like Dynamic Lifter. Make sure you add some more mulch at the same time.

The only other thing you have to do is prune your plants as they grow to maintain a nice shape and keep them looking neat.

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Viburnum odoratissimum problems, pests and diseases

Sweet viburnum is a tough and hardy plant that is not prone to pests and diseases. If your plants are growing in well-drained soil, you shouldn’t have any problems with root rot which could kill them.

However, you might see thrips or spider mites on your plants, especially when they’re young. These pests can easily be controlled by spraying with an oil-based insecticide like neem oil.

Sweet Viburnum FAQ

How fast does Viburnum odoratissimum grow?

Viburnum odoratissimum is a moderately fast grower when grown in fertile soil and given water during dry spells. Most varieties can grow at a rate of around half a metre in a single year.

Will Viburnum odoratissimum grow in shade?

Viburnum odoratissimum will grow in partial shade or full sun. If you do have a partially shaded spot where you want to plant your sweet viburnum, it’s ideal if the spot gets at least some morning sun. This will ensure that your viburnum flowers in spring and is healthy.

What is the lifespan of a viburnum?

Viburnums are long-lived plants with some natural specimens living as long as 150 years. These plants have few pest and disease problems and are very hardy once well-established.

Is the Viburnum odoratissimum root system invasive?

Viburnum odoratissimum does not have an invasive root system.

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Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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